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Case Study

Mom’s Basement Apartment

By June 3, 2024No Comments5 min read
refreshing whole house kitchen with fridge and island


Our client called us soon after closing on her new home. She had purchased it with the intention of remodeling the semi-finished basement and converting it to an apartment suite. She needed a home for her aging mom, whose husband had recently passed away, and who needed a little help managing things on her own.

Client Requirements:

After meeting with the client and Mom, we agreed on converting the partially finished basement room into a living room, bedroom, full-sized kitchen, and bigger bathroom. We would be able to utilize the existing space without moving any walls, other than those necessary to enlarge the tiny bathroom. The homeowners were adamant about installing a full kitchen in the basement, as Mom loved to cook. The challenge was obtaining a permit from the City of Rockville in order to have a kitchen sink and stove in the basement.

Design Process:

The design and style elements of the new apartment were based on Mom’s existing furniture, which she had gathered from all over the world –particularly Asia and the Middle East. She sent us pictures of her existing decor, requesting that we match color, texture, and finishes wherever possible to the beloved pieces that she would soon be moving into her new home. A few noteworthy design details:

  • We chose the black granite countertops, honed to give the appearance of old-fashioned soapstone, in order to achieve the “Rustic Asian” theme the client was after. The black porcelain ‘farmhouse’ sink was a bit of a difficult find, but well worth the time we put into looking since it perfectly complements the rest of the kitchen décor.
  • The island in the center of the kitchen was selected as much for its rustic appeal, as for its ample storage space under the countertop.
  • The kitchen is styled beautifully, with a brick-look tile backsplash that echoes the brick around the fireplace (at the opposite end of the room). Custom cherry cabinets with both under-cabinet and in-cabinet lighting, not only bring warmth to the space and look fantastic with the matte black hardware, appliances, and countertops. There is ample lighting for any culinary project.
  • We recessed a standard-sized refrigerator seamlessly into the kitchen wall –it looked like a counter-depth refrigerator. Our homeowner got more bang for their buck, since counter-depth refrigerators cost more money than standard-sized refrigerators, despite the fact they have less space.

Key Project Highlights:

Innovative Details:

  • Engineered hardwood flooring
  • Aging-in-place bathroom features, including a ‘walk-in’ shower with a one-inch-high curb and grab bars on the shower wall
  • Converting an old sewing machine into a bathroom vanity
  • The honed absolute-black granite countertops in the kitchen were chosen to mimic soapstone
  • The black matte hardware and plumbing fixtures appealed to the homeowner’s Asian Rustic theme

Obstacles: The homeowners had to apply for a special permit from the City of Rockville for their mother to move into the basement because there would be a full kitchen. The special permit process takes at least six months because the homeowners had to schedule two separate public hearings to explain to any interested neighbors that Mom was moving into the basement. During this process, they had to send out 700 letters to their neighbors informing them of their intention to move Mom into the basement and invite them to the hearings. No neighbors came to either hearing.

Superior Craftsmanship:

We built the brick jambs around the new and enlarged windows in the bedroom to blend in with the existing brick and built a bathroom vanity out of a beloved Singer sewing machine.

Client Satisfaction:              

The homeowners are thrilled with Mom’s new home! The client now has peace of mind, knowing that her mother is comfy in her new home –and just down the stairs should an emergency occur. Further details regarding this exciting project can be found on our website here.

refreshing whole house wooden bathroom vanity

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